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Islamabad

March 21, 2017

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Workshop on child abuse titled ‘My Body Belongs to Me’

Workshop on child abuse titled ‘My Body Belongs to Me’

Rawalpindi

One out of four children experiences a significant traumatic event before reaching adulthood, which shows that a huge population is living with trauma that remains unnoticed and that child sex abuse is still underreported as a consequence of the stigma attached to it.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Child Psychiatry Unit at Institute of Psychiatry in Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) Dr. Ayesha Minhas expressed this while talking to the participants in a workshop titled ‘My Body Belongs to Me.’

The Institute of Psychiatry and World Health Organisation Collaboration Centre at BBH organised the workshop on the topic of Child Sex Abuse with an objective of creating awareness about the topic that is usually brushed under the carpet, especially in our society.

The workshop was one of the series of pre-conference workshops conducted at Institute of Psychiatry as a part of Rawalpindi Medical College Scientific Programme.

A docudrama produced by the institute was also screened at the event. According to organisers, an overwhelming response from the medical students was noticed as they actively participated in discussions throughout the workshop, and hence the aim of the workshop was fulfilled to a great extent owing to the heavy attendance and involvement of the audience.

The workshop depicted the harmonious team work of the faculty members of Psychiatry Department in partnership with colleagues from Community Medicine Department of Rawalpindi Medical College. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Child Psychiatry Unit Dr. Ayesha Minhas and consultants at Institute of Psychiatry Dr Sadia Yasir and Dr Hafiz Sultan were the main facilitators, along with Senior Resident at Institute of Psychiatry Dr. Hania Amin. Dr Muneeba Faisal and Dr Afifa Kulsoom contributed as co-facilitators at the workshop.

Introductory remarks were given by Head of Institute of Psychiatry at BBH Professor Fareed Minhas whereby he welcomed the participants and introduced the speakers for the workshop. He then handed the podium to Dr Ayesha Minhas who proceeded with the programme.

She started with an expression of thanks to the participants for showing an interest in the workshop, and attributed their interest to the experience of trauma at some point in everybody’s lives. She then continued with World Health Organisation’s definition of child maltreatment : ‘Child maltreatment, sometimes referred to as child abuse and neglect, includes all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation that results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity. Within this broad definition, five subtypes can be distinguished– physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect and negligent treatment; emotional abuse; and exploitation.’

She explained that child abuse is any activity in which an adult, or an older child, uses a younger child in a sexual way. There is a common misconception that child abuse is only rape; it is a more comprehensive phrase that also includes non-touching activities like showing pornographic material etc, she said.

She shared that one in four children experiences a significant traumatic event before reaching adulthood.

She quoted Lenore C Terr (paediatrician, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and the winner of the Blanche Ittleson Award for her research on childhood trauma) in the following way: ‘Childhood trauma is the rheumatic fever of child psychiatry’. Further elaborating and comparing the two, she said both might begin subtly but if left untreated may lead to devastating long term consequence later in life.

She then spoke about the evolution of the docudrama on Child Sex Abuse, ‘Un-Kahi’, which gained impetus after the tragic incident of Kasoor in which hundreds of children were filmed for pornographic purposes.

The campaign against Child Sexual Abuse was then planned to be executed in three stages; two of which, the screening of the video at the Clinicopathological Conference in Rawalpindi Medical College and the seminar conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry, BBH have been accomplished and today is the third stage which is the first workshop arranged for Child Sex Abuse. She stated that we hope to expand it further and spread the word to masses in the future.

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